Today, after I had already gotten to school of course, a snow day was called.
What did I do as soon as I returned home for my unexpected day off?
I took my kids to the babysitter.
I scrolled instagram and saw all of my teacher friends having nice days off with their kids, and it hit me.
The mom guilt.
It is seriously like a chronic disease. It doesn’t matter how many times people say “don’t feel bad, you need time for you.” It just never goes away!
So how sad is this? I take my kids to the babysitter so that I can get some things done around the house and have a little break, only to sit home and blog about how much I miss them. That right there is motherhood in a nutshell.
What other activity did I choose to do today you ask?
I filled out Christmas cards that have beautiful pictures of, you guessed it, my kids, on them. I might be obsessed.
If you have a rockstar babysitter like I do, and you are paying for the week anyway, to me it is a no-brainer. They should go to the sitter, right?
Even with that frame of mind the guilt still exists. I have learned to live with it. It isn’t going anywhere, so I am going to have to evolve. I don’t love my kids any less because they are at their babysitter’s house, who they love so much. I know this, so what’s next?
Here are five ways not to let mom guilt win. Please know that I am not, in any way, claiming to be an expert here. I am more writing these down to force myself to follow them.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It sound’s silly, but if you’re a mom you will get this. There are some nights where I have had an extremely hard day, and something slips through the cracks. Maybe I forgot to brush Nicholas’ teeth or didn’t clip Marley’s nails. Those things are not a big deal, and I need to know that Nicholas isn’t going to wake up with a black tooth and Marley won’t wake up having gouged her own eyeballs out. I can just make sure to do those things tomorrow night. Obsessing over them until I fall asleep helps no one.
2. Carve out time for yourself.
For some reason, this is so hard for me to do. If I ever have free time, my first thought is to get ahead in some sort of mommy or work-related task. Before I know it, I am on a hamster wheel of constant stress with no stopping. If I keep up like this, then all of the sudden I will be a mom of grown kids who doesn’t have a hobby or know what I like to do for fun. Keeping those hobbies alive helps so much with self care and mental health. Even a month ago, I was in the mindset that if what I am doing doesn’t help my family or career, then I am not using my time wisely. However, having fun is helping your family, because it is keeping you sane!
3. Have confidence in your parenting choices.
If you google mom guilt, you will get something that pops up and basically says that mom guilt is when you feel you are falling short as a parent in some way. In my opinion, if you are worried enough about the well-being of your kids to have mom guilt, then you aren’t falling short. Promise to make decisions without the following self-doubt. If you don’t like the outcome of a decision, just change it without the added self-shame.
4. Communicate your needs to others.
I am telling you, the best thing that I ever did as a parent is ask for help when I needed it. For some reason, moms think that they need to do everything themselves in order to be a good mom. I know, because that’s what I thought. Communicating what you need to your partner so that he or she can help you achieve those goals is not confrontational! Sometimes I need a break and my husband just doesn’t know it! If he knows, he can help me get one!
If you need some extra babysitting, think about asking your close friends! You would be amazed by the number of friends that you have who are truly willing to watch your kids for you for an hour or so for your own sanity. You have an army behind you and you may not even know it.
For some of you, your children might have way more needs than a typically-developing child, and it might be really hard for you to find a quality babysitter that can deal with these things. Make sure you are reaching out to your local advocacy centers. They love helping people find the resources that they need so parents can get some respite!
If you live far from home, embrace the online community. We live in a time where we don’t need to live near people we know in order to find support. However, if that is your route, make sure to ignore/block/delete mom-shamers.
5. Give your kids a phone-less hang out session every day.
This doesn’t mean you can’t reach me after school, this just means that I am not going to have my phone in my hand when I am hanging out with my kids in the afternoon. I spend more hours a day with my students than I do with my own children. Even though I am exhausted when I get home, I do not want to give my kids a lesser-version of me than my students get. My students get my full attention for the entire day, so I would love my children to get the same. When my kids go to sleep and I am having my “me time”, then I can be on “scroll patrol” all I want.
I am addicted to taking snapchats of my kids, and I don’t want to stop sharing their cuteness, but I am promising myself at least an hour a night where that isn’t an option, and we are just playing with toys and hanging out.
I am going to be honest, this one is going to be hard for me, but I think the reward will be worth it. No matter what happens, I am making memories with my kids while being present in the moment.
I could probably write 1,000 posts about mom guilt, and I probably will. But, I just wanted to give a short shoutout to the moms out there who are working hard to balance everything in their lives.
I would also like to give a shoutout to my children’s babysitter for being amazing. She makes it easy for me to drop my kids off on a snow day because I know they are going to have fun, eat well, and have a great nap. Now, I can do the same.